Sound Advice for Photographers

long_waveform

Thank you Patt Flynn!

Every now and then along comes an amazing tool that, after using it for awhile, you wonder how you lived without it. Well, thanks to Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome.com, I learned of this free online (cloud) tool that does something that anyone working with multimedia online should be aware of. It’s a an audio normalizing and leveling tool called Auphonic.

Getting Level

Before learning of Auphonic, I was using an awesome tool called Levelator. Basically it was a drag and drop process. I’d record audio, or a video (then strip the audio off) and drop it on the program. Levelator would go to work crunching the audio, and “normalizing” it. The resulting file would sound better and be ready for either editing or uploading.

Essentially, Levelator contains algorithms that “look” at the audio and does its “level best” (couldn’t resist) to keep everything at a constant audio level. This is critical for we podcasters as we might find ourselves doing interviews with folks of varying microphone quality and ambient room noise. Bringing the hosts audio to the same level with the guest, and then bringing everything up to normal level results in pro-quality audio. This extra effort can separate a podcast that the audience struggles to listen to, from the one that is recorded so well that they can instead focus on the content.

Progress means fewer steps

One of the unfortunate steps involved with using the Levelator was that for video files it requires stripping the audio off of the video files before processing it through the software. This is because Levelator only accepts .AIFF files. So in my workflow, I’d have to export the video file to audio-only .AIFF, then normalize it.

And splitting the audio off of the video file meant that I’d have to rejoin it to the video later. Which mean’t I had to introduce ANOTHER piece of software into the mix called PluralEyes. It’s a simple process of dragging the normalized .AIFF file along with the original video onto the software. It then matches the waveforms and replaces the original audio with the new sweetened audio.

That’s a lot of steps per video file huh? It may read like it’s more hassle than it really is in practice. It goes relatively fast, but still… it’s a LOT of steps.

The kicker is that unfortunately Levelator is no longer in active development, or supported. So it’s kind of a dinosaur at this point.

Enter Auphonic!

Basically Auphonic does everything Levelator does, and a whole lot more. Check out this feature list from the Auphonic.com site:

  • Intelligent leveler: balances levels between speakers, music and speech – no compressor knowledge required
  • Loudness normalization to new broadcast standards: EBU R128, ATSC A/85, true peak limiter and more
  • Audio restoration: automatic noise and hum reduction, filtering of disturbing low frequencies
  • Optimal encoding and metadata management: MP3, Opus, AAC/MP4, Ogg Vorbis, ALAC, FLAC, etc.
  • Chapter marks (titles, URLs, images) for MP4, ID3 (MP3) and Vorbis Comment
  • Support for video input and output
  • Automatic content deployment via Dropbox, FTP, SFTP, HTTP, WebDAV, Amazon S3, YouTube, SoundCloud, Libsyn, Blubrry and Archive.org
  • iPhone and Android apps with on-board recorder
  • Complete API to integrate Auphonic into your workflows and apps

Plus all of this programmatic algorithmic sweetness is done in the cloud… for FREE! Meaning no software on your computer, operating system independence, or other restrictions.

This is a one-step audio/video maker-better-er. And the best part is it doesn’t cost you a dime! I’ve incorporated this tool into my weekly This Week in Photo workflow.

If you’re doing any sort of online content creation, you should definitely give this tool a try.